|CSUF Emeritus Professor of Secondary
Education Dies at 82
James W. Cusick, One of University’s
Early Faculty Members
August 28, 2007 :: No. 24
Throughout his 45 years in education,
James W. Cusick’s
students always came first, recalled his children and colleagues.
Cusick, emeritus professor of secondary education at Cal
State Fullerton, died Aug. 23.
Cusick, who began teaching
at CSUF in 1961, was 82.
Family members said Cusick
and his wife, Ruth, of 55 years, were on a road trip to his
native Montana to visit family members when he died in his sleep at a hotel
in Utah. Cusick and his wife were planning to move back to Montana after living
in Fullerton for 46 years.
A vigil will be
held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Placentia’s St. Joseph
Catholic Church, where Cusick was an active member. A Mass
is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the church, 717 N.
Colleagues and family members fondly remember
Cusick as a well-respected scholar who loved people — and
a captive audience. He also had a sense of humor and, most
of all, respected his students and was dedicated to education.
“Jim Cusick approached
education from a long-respected philosophy that every child
should have the opportunity for a meaningful and useful education,
designed to enable him or her to become a reasoned and productive
citizen,” said Joan Monteverde,
education credential specialist for CSUF’s Credential
His daughter Cassie Cusick, professor
of neuroscience at Tulane University in New Orleans, also
noted how her father instilled in her, as well as others,
important for teachers to value every one of their students.” Her
two sisters also followed in their father’s footsteps
and became educators.
Helen Taylor, professor
and coordinator of secondary education — a post Cusick
formerly held — described
her former colleague as “a marvelous man” who
students adored: “He set the tone for secondary education
that exists today.
chair and professor of secondary education, called Cusick
a great mentor. When she arrived at CSUF in fall 1993, Cusick took the time to
set up a visit with administrators and teachers at Anaheim Union High School
District so that she could learn more about the collaboration between the university
and district. “He
was well-thought-of in the district and paved the way for
a great relationship that I have enjoyed all these years,” she said.
was born Nov. 18, 1924 and grew up in Laurel, Mont., near
Billings. He and his family moved to Fullerton in 1961 after
he accepted a teaching position at Cal State Fullerton, then
named Orange County State College. Cusick and his wife made
their home near the Fullerton campus, then surrounded by
orange groves. He lived so close that he walked to work,
remembered son Mike Cusick of Bozeman, Mont.
only a few portable classrooms when my dad started working
at Cal State Fullerton,” said
Cusick, an attorney. “He always had an optimistic view
about being part of the institution; he focused on all of
James Cusick earned
a bachelor of science degree from Montana State College (now
Montana State University), where he majored in chemistry. He earned a master’s
degree in education from Washington State University and doctorate from the University
of Minnesota. He was a high school math and science teacher
and later taught at Montana State College before joining Cal State Fullerton.
CSUF, Cusick served as chair of the Division of Teacher Education
from 1964-69 and 1980-86, and as director/coordinator of
secondary education for 20 years. He was awarded emeritus
status in 1987, but continued teaching until 1994.
For many years,
Cusick also was involved with the California Council on Teacher
Education (formerly the California Council on the Education
of Teachers), a nonprofit organization devoted to improving
the education of teachers and administrators. He served as
executive secretary from 1969-80, president from 1982-84
and past president from 1984-86.
Son Mike Cusick recalled
his father’s modest beginnings as the son of a railroad
switchman and mother who ran a boarding house to help make
ends meet. Cusick’s first
job was working in the roundhouse for the Northern Pacific
dad’s teaching philosophy came from his very humble
beginnings; he was a self-educated person who saw the value
of every individual. He loved life and he loved people,” he
While he moved away from
his hometown, Cusick was a lifelong enthusiast for the
state of Montana, where he visited every summer and loved
to fish, Mike Cusick said.
“He was going home,” he
said. “He was so excited.”
Cusick is also survived
by son James Cusick Jr., who is autistic and lives at Fairview
Developmental Center in Costa Mesa; daughters Connie Cusick
of West Yellowstone, Mont., a high school science teacher,
and Mary Castaneda of Quail Valley, who teaches kindergarten
in Lake Elsinore; and seven grandchildren.
Donations in his
memory may be sent to: St. Vincent de Paul Society, in
care of St. Joseph Catholic Church, 717 N. Bradford Ave.,
Placentia, CA 92870; or Fairview Developmental Center,
2501 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
online at www.fullerton.edu/news/newsphotos
||Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 657-278-4027 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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